Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 71, Suns 88
Suns 88, Celtics 71
Trailing by 18 points with 7:20 to play in a strange, chippy game in Phoenix from which Doc Rivers had already been ejected, the Celtics started making a run.
After a dirty foul from Mickael Pietrus – he caught Kevin Garnett in the throat with a forearm trying to fight through a pick – the Celtics put together a 9-0 run to make it a game.
Garnett scored four points on a pair of free throws and then a hook shot in the lane, and that was followed by a Ray Allen three and a Nate Robinson jumper for a frantic run, making the score 78-69. The Suns finally answered to put the score at 80-69 when mayhem broke loose.
Garnett and Channing Frye got into it after KG gave him a shot to the midsection on a 3-point attempt. The hit was presumably intended for Fry's midsection but caught him south of the border. Frye hit the deck for a moment before springing to his feet and getting in Garnett’s face, bringing all 10 guys on the court together. Marcin Gortat, who had a monster game with 19 points and 17 rebounds, was the third man in, and things got hectic and the referees huddled for minutes to sort it all out after everyone was separated.
Somehow, the Celtics ended up on the business end of the technical fouls. Garnett was handed a pair of techs and was ejected (to his disbelief) while Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson each got technicals as well.
Frye was assessed a technical, but mysteriously, he was the only Suns player who picked up a T on the exchange.
The Suns ended up shooting six free throws, converting four of them, and their 80-69 point lead swelled to 15 points and basically put the game out of reach for a tired and frustrated Celtics team.
Late Arrival, Early Departure
After arriving in Phoenix after 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning, and playing the second night of a back-to-back, the odds were already stacked against the Boston Celtics before the game even tipped off.
It didn’t take long for this one to get out of hand.Shaquille O’Neal picked up two quick personals, and then Kendrick Perkins picked up two of his own, exposing the Celtics inside and the Suns took advantage, jumping out to a 30-16 first quarter lead. Shaq ended up playing just 15 minutes on the night, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds.
Rivers was tossed late in the first half on consecutive technicals by veteran official Steve Javie, a man widely consideredto be the best referee in the NBA, but one also notorious for handing out technical fouls with little or no notice.
To top it off, Glen Davis only played 12:32, straining his right hamstring and sitting out the second half. There’s no word at this point on his status for Sunday in Los Angeles.
Key Box Score Line
Kevin Garnett was bringing the Celtics to life in the second half, and when the Suns saw it happening, they made a point of getting physical with the Celtics’ emotional leader. Garnett was ejected with just over four minutes to play, but before his departure he was on his way to posting another impressive performance after his near-triple-double in Portland Thursday night.
Garnett posted 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, while notching a pair of steals in just 26:55 of playing time.
Despite the tough loss in Phoenix, there was a silver lining to Friday’s game: No Celtics player logged 32 minutes or more, and only Paul Pierce and Ray Allen eclipsed 30 minutes of playing time. So the Celtics should be about as fresh as possible heading into Sunday’s marquee matinee with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The only question mark will be the status of Davis, who sat out the second half.
Box Score Nuggets
- Ray Allen notched 2-pointers. He is now 16 3-pointers shy of breaking Reggie Miller's record for all-time 3-pointers made.
- Marcin Gortat had a sensational game off the bench for the Suns, scoring a career-high 19 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.
- Steve Nash posted a game-high 10 assists.
- Luke Harangody, who went 0-for-4 from the field in 4:07, is the only Celtics player who didn't score Friday night.
- The Celtics hit just 2 of their 18 3-point field goal attempts.
- Rajon Rondo had just six assists and committed seven turnovers, registering more turnovers than assists for the second consecutive game and the second time this season.
- Gortat's 17 rebounds were just one shy of the Celtics' bench's total of 18 rebounds.
- Kendrick Perkins scored two points and grabbed four rebounds in his third game of the season.
- Von Wafer went 1-for-6 from the field in 12:16 of playing time. He was 0-for-4 from downtown.
- The Suns won their third-straight game against the Celtics, marking the longest active win streak by one opponent against Boston. Both Houston and New Orleans have won consecutive games against the Celtics.*
- The Celtics led for just 22 seconds in tonight's contest.
* = Statistic courtesy of the Phoenix Suns Media Relations department.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on his team's tired approach to the game: "When you come off a back-to-back, you have to have the discipline to attack the basket."